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Basketball Preview: Hamburg girls primed and ready for big season ahead

DRIVING POINT GUARD — Senior guard Jill Ford is one of eight players returning from last season’s team. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
Last season seemed merely a primer for what’s in store for the Hamburg girls in 2013-14.

With a team of mostly juniors last year, the Bulldogs returned back to the Class A final, where they lost for a second straight season with a title on the line to Grand Island.

With so many of those Bulldogs back, and a season of playing together competitively at this level under their belts, head coach Kelly Owens has talent inside and outside and can go two lines deep with talented starters and potential starters on her 10-player roster. Six of them are seniors and eight played on last year’s team.

“What’s nice about this year’s starting lineup is that it could change each night,” Owens said. “We have a nice outside game and a nice inside game...They all learned to play with each other last year, after a bunch of them came up from the JV, so they’re clicking really well, so far.”

Owens said her team’s transition game looks very good right now, with senior guards Jill Ford, at the point, and Allie Salerno, at the two spot, leading the way.

Three-year varsity contributor Kendra Quinn-Moultrie can also run the floor and will be an inside presence for Hamburg, while fellow seniors Leah Jones, Kaley Reardon and Jessie Smith are athletic guard/forwards that fit the team’s mold very well.

Ashley Kabza, at 6-foot-1, and 5-11 Jordan Smith will play under the basket but can also move up and down the court, as returning juniors to the varsity. Sophomore Anne Chiacchia and junior Nathalie Collins have been added to the mix at guard.

“Playing in transition and running the floor is definitely what’s going to create some of our offense for us,” noted Owens, whose team finished 19-2 last season and repeated as ECIC II division champions.

The 5-10 Quinn-Moultrie was last season’s top scorer with 13.6 per game and also picked up 140 rebounds and 24 steals. Owens said the senior has also developed a nice outside shot to add to her repoitoire and will be among the leaders helping to fill the void of three-year starting forward Taylor Wolf.

“Kendra missed some time with a concussion and wound up coming off the bench with all of the talented players we had, as a sophomore,” Owens said. “But I told her a spot was there for the taking last year and she’s worked hard for that everyday since.”

Ford was second on the team in 2012-13 with a 9 point average, to go with 65 assists. Salerno, who missed some of last season with an injury, has been playing up on varsity since her freshman season. Owens likes the development of all of her returning players, noting that Kabza and Smith have grown into their bodies and gotten better with their inside game, and Jones and Reardon will see big minutes with the improvements they’ve made.

She is also happy to welcome back Jessie Smith, who missed last season with a torn ACL, while Chiacchia has been getting more comfortable playing at this level each day, Owens added.

“I feel like we have versatility, too, with so many of our players,” noted Owens, who expects a challenge in division and sectional play from teams like Iroquois, Williamsville South and Starpoint. “We can sub five new girls in at a time. It’s a nice problem to have.”

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